27 answers

How Do I Get Husband to Stop Spending Money?

My family has been hit by these hard financial times like everyone else yet my husband cannot stop spending money. If I give a credit card for emergency purposes he uses it at fast food and conveinence stores. I have tried taking the cards away (which just makes him mad), I have included him in the bill paying process (which he hates), and even threatend to let him manage the money. I really don't want to give this over to hime because I know the mortgage will not get paid. This is how I got this duty to begin with. We have an appointment with a financial counselor but not until next month. I am at my wits end on how to get him to understand that we do not have the money to live the way he wants to. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

You may have to switch to giving him cash on a weekly or monthly basis if you can...or get a prepaid visa card with a limit. It is hard to backpedal when you are used to a certain lifestyle but times are hard right now and unfortunately people are saying it is going to worse before it gets better! It might help to do a budget spreadsheet of all the money coming in and out and if he goes over show him the spreadsheet and ask him where you should pull the money....ie food, gas, mortgage? If he sees it on paper, he might realize the situation you are in and be more careful!

1 mom found this helpful

I know you said he doesn't like it, but if you could try to make him a part of the bill paying process, I think that would make his spending real to him. It's easy to use credit cards and not think about the money as actual dollars. If you could try to pay most bills all at once at the same time every month, it could become a habit. Try to make it appealing to him- maybe include something that he likes as part of the ritual. For instance, if he likes Chinese food, have one night a month when you order take out and then tackle the bills. And maybe try not to get angry at him when you see how much he spends- he will realize it himself if he actually takes part in paying the bills. Hope this helps...good luck.

I have had similiar problems with my husband as well. One thing that helped a little was not letting him have any cards, but set aside a specific amount of cash each week and that was all he was allowed to spend. It really helped a lot.

More Answers

H.,

My heart jumped when I read your call for help just now. It was like taking a step back in time and reading my life over again. So I guess I am your future. Here to show you that you can and will get through this together and come out stronger on the other side. My husband and I are living proof.

It was like this all of our married life. He had no concept of money. His idea of checking his account was what ever the ATM said is what he thought he could spend. I on the other hand, I love to manage money! I want complete financial freedom and am willing to do without to get us there. My husband was not willing to help me with our finances. He said he wasn't good at it and didn't want to do it. We got into financial difficulties after our first son was born; too many credit cards and too little will-power. I hated to always say no to him so I'd give in and we'd get deeper into debt month after month. I then would 'give up' and just go shopping too. Then regret would set in and we'd make a cycle of it all. Finally, I had had enough when we had to get a second mortgage to pay off the $18,000 we had on credit cards. I cut all of my cards up at that point. But my husband wouldn't cut his up. He kept using them and didn't see the big deal. He tells me now that he felt so bad and so low that spending and having things made him feel better back in those days. I tried everything that I could think of to change him. But nothing worked.

About 6 yrs ago, our world crashed right before our eyes. We had a wonderful home based business that was making tons of money (to us anyway). We were flying to FL to do tv commercials as well as doing radio commercials here locally and all of this was bringing the money in hand over fist. I guess we just couldn't see it coming. The government stepped in and took over the manufacture of our product and shut them down for good it turned out. We went from tons of money to no money over night. I called the creditors thinking we had a relationship with them...LOL...that's funny right there. It all was falling apart right in front of us and we couldn't do anything to stop it.

I had every book on making money that I could find and nothing worked for us. I happened to be at the tv one day when dollar bills started floating on the screen. No it wasn't me freaking out it was the beginning of a show that has changed our lives for the BEST. There were questions that came up on the screen with the dollar bills that were floating around. Questions like, "Are you sick and tired of your financial situation? Does your money end before the month does? Do you know what the Bible says about money? Did you know that God has a plan for money?" All of these questions drew me in closer and I watched that whole program and my life changed. I couldn't believe that money was in the Bible and that God had a plan for money. But when the man on the tv said that in the Bible when God speaks of money, it is the only time God says 'try me and see.'

So at that stage of the game, I set out on a mission to do just that "try God and see' if His word was telling the truth. When I told my husband, he thought I was NUTS! I figured I didn't have anything to loose since we were about to loose the house and our only automobile to foreclosure and the repo man. I found my old Bible that I had since I was a little girl and started reading the Scriptures that I had written down from that program I had watched. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. It was weird because none of my other money based books held my attention like this one did. It was simple really what God said to do with our money so why hadn't I read this anywhere before? I still kept going forward and applying God's teachings.

Now I want to fast forward to today. It's been around 6yrs or so and my husband is doing a GREAT job with our finances. He is learning how to manage our money and isn't complaining about it either. He recognizes now that this is truly my gifting so he's allowing me to teach him how he can do it too. I see it giving him a new sense of accomplishment that's boosting his self-esteem. And there's nothing more exciting than a confident man around the house!

We have paid off somewhere around $66,000 worth of credit card debt, the van was saved and paid in full and our home for over 13yrs was saved as well and it is now our ONLY debt. And ALL of the glory and honor goes to God! We could not have done it without His teachings and doing it His way. But we had to be willing to learn His way and to apply what we learned and He has always been faithful to us.

We now have a fabulous home-based business that no doubt was given to us by God. We get to help other families just like ours save money and create true residual income if that's their goal to do so. Think about the real life lessons that we have taught our children through our mistakes and our willingness to learn what we were doing wrong and to make it right.

Your husband needs you to partner with him through this difficult time in your lives. I want to encourage you to stand strong and fight the fight. Not fight him even when he very well may deserve it. It doesn't get you the results that you want...I've been there and done that. Love him through it and keep trying to talk to him and show him that he is still the leader and the head of your home but money management just happens to be your gift. And ask him to allow you to show him how staying on a spending budget each month will help you all reach your financial goals even faster. And if you do not have goals in place, set them up quickly. Ask him to share his ideas for financial goals for your family. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?

I hope it helps to know that you are not alone.

Take Care,
N. :) SAHM homeschooling 3 boys 13, 8 & 2 yrs old and married to my Mr. Wonderful for 15 yrs. I love to help other moms, who would like to become SAHMs, reach that goal!

3 moms found this helpful

I agree with Dyreka - handing over the money management to your husband would be the worst possible idea at this point. I understand the logic behind your idea, but don't do it! Keep a tight reign on the credit cards and other assets until he gets his act in gear. That is great that you are going to financial counseling next month - hopefully that will be a great help to you.

You mentioned giving him a credit card for 'emergencies' - why? Does he have a cell phone to call for help? Would a $20 stuck behind his lisence be enough if he had to get a cab somewhere in case of a car breakdown? He obviously can't handle the concept of emergency-only credit, so I'd cut it off. It's not just a matter of spending too much money, but the fact that he could ruin both your credit scores and put you all in a very bad situation.

Maybe in the meantime you can give him a type of allowance each week (if he's not bringing in his own money) and pretty much starting from scratch there - if he can handle that, then he can work on earning more trust from you. It is unfortunate to have to resort to harsh tactics, but in these times you can't have much of a learning curve. You could also 'make' him sit down to do the finances with you before he's allowed access to the money. Maybe then he can see what comes in each month and what has to go out and then you can decide together on how to spend the remainder.

Money problems are no small thing, for sure, but I am glad that you consider him a 'wonderful man' and that he is there for you and your son. Hang in there and definitely seek God for what to do in this situation!

1 mom found this helpful

give him a set amount he can spend a month. then get one of those gift cards in that amount (visa gift card) he can use it anywhere he would a credit card and then when it runs out, it runs out. every month refill it (you can do this over the phone or online i believe) with the set amount. he will then learn to use his allowed money wisely and realize how much he is spending. you could also go wild with this and get a few one for gas one for food one for personal ect. this way everything you buy out side of the house wont go over the set limit. take tape or a sharpie and write on each card what they are for. at the end of the mont you wont have any surprises unless there really is an emergancy.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi H.-

Until you have your meeting with the financial planner and get your finances under control, get rid of the credit cards and only use cash. You (or your husband, namely) can't overspend that way. Secondly, he has got to get on the same page as you concerning finances. If he doesn't there really is nothing you can do. Even if you have separate financial accounts or credit cards, you still have joint debt like your mortgage and his financial irresponsibility can have a negative effect on YOUR credit rating. And as impossible as it is to get credit nowadays, you do not want damage your lendability.

Good luck and best wishes on getting it all straightened out.

1 mom found this helpful

H.,

It sounds to me like your husband doesn't seem to understand that he's one of the adults of the house, not one of the children. Spending money on whatever they want is something children only THINK grown-ups get to do. I would suggest some marital counseling with a focus on expectations. What your expectations are for him as a husband and a parnter and vice versa. This seems to be about money, but it's very possible that there is a deeper problem at work. You said he "hates" being part of the bill paying process, well, everyone has to do things they hate. Grown-ups know this. He seems immature to me and I think the only way to bring him around without damaging your marriage in the process is through counseling. In the meantime, no matter how mad he gets, you're going to have to restrict his access to the money. He could do your financial "portfolio" serious damage with his irresponsibility and it's incumbent upon you to prevent that for the future of your family. If he's working you can't restrict his money of course, but if he's not and he gets ticked, you can always offer him the alternative of getting a job.

I wish you the best of luck whatever you decide. I ended up having to divorce my ex for behavior like this (only much worse since I was only an E4 in the military, he wasn't working and he was spending our grocery money on new shoes, rims for his car and alcohol.) Almost 5 years later and I am still paying off the credit cards I had to rack up just to feed our family.

1 mom found this helpful

I know my husband and I both loved spending money, and we solved it by giving ourselves an allowance. We each had $20 a month to spend on whatever we wanted, and we could go out as a family 2x a month-each of us got to choose one time. We were really really strapped at that point, and because of that practice we've learned better discipline with finances. The money we had was cash, so we couldn't go over, and there was no card for emergencies, though we did keep an extra $5 bill just in case we needed it for gas. If that would get spent though, don't let him have it. He has to learn responsibility, and that tends to make people mad, but it's necessary. It's not fair to have to keep trying to fix the over-spending: it just needs to stop.

1 mom found this helpful

You may have to switch to giving him cash on a weekly or monthly basis if you can...or get a prepaid visa card with a limit. It is hard to backpedal when you are used to a certain lifestyle but times are hard right now and unfortunately people are saying it is going to worse before it gets better! It might help to do a budget spreadsheet of all the money coming in and out and if he goes over show him the spreadsheet and ask him where you should pull the money....ie food, gas, mortgage? If he sees it on paper, he might realize the situation you are in and be more careful!

1 mom found this helpful

It might help to have a talk with him about what your goals in life are and what you are working together to accomplish. My husband also couldn't seem to resist the urge to spend, but once we set our sights on buying a house and to put every spare dollar into saving for that purpose, he came around. Now he is focused on getting his debts paid off and every time there is a temptation we just discuss our dream of buying a house. So for you, it could be a house, or putting your kids through college, or saving for retirement, or just getting out of debt. It might be all of those things, but I recommend focusing on one, whichever one you can accomplish first, so that you can both look forward to that day in the forseeable future and it will seem more real and not just a far-off wish. Whenever temptation strikes you can remind each other of what you're scrimping and saving for.

N.R. answers from Richmond on December 12, 2008

Whoever NR is with the Biblical results - I would like to talk to you more if you're still out there. DLS Chicago area.

No one likes sitting down to pay bills, but unless he sees what his spending does to the checkbook he's not going to really understand. If he doesn't pay bills on time, then I think you both need to sit down together.

H. - set up a separate bank account for your husband and get him an atm card. Put budgeted money in that account each and tell him when its gone its gone. He feels he still has control and so do you.

I wish I knew. I am in the exact same boat as you. Have you seen a financial counselor yet? I'd be curious to know what they said to do, because I've tried everything as well, and nothing seems to work. He just gets so mad at me too, and then gets even more mad when we don't have the money to go out for dinner or do something fun on the weekends.

You have gotten some great advice. You cannot stop him from spending money. He has to understand the finances. You need to sit down and talk with him about it. I think that going to cash is the best way to stay within a budget. But you cannot do it to him, giving him an allowance for the week or month without doing it for yourself. Choose your words wisely and don't argue with him about it. Good luck.

C.

I too manage the money, as it became chaotic when my husband was! I would sit down and make out a budget for us, showing how much extra money we had to spend in the end of all the bills, and savings, and whatever else goes into your monthly managing. My husband was pretty good at trying to stick with what I explained we could do, and he will still call me and ask me what our money situation is when he wants to buy something. BUT, he still has the mentality, that if we have the money...it needs to be spent! I would suggest writing out a budget in the same manner, and putting it somewhere so he can see it and understand what is/isn't there. I would also agree with the other posters, give out a cash allowance..and when it is gone, it is gone. No credit cards, or anything like that. It is a shame that he can't get on board with you in trying to stick to a budget, as he is your partner in this, not your child. I think he needs to know that it is just as much of a bummer for you to have to be looking at this with him in a manner that a mother would for a child, by handing out an allowance, as it is for him to be limitted in spending. He needs to be more helpful and willing on this, hopefully your appointment will leave you both on the same side, with lots of great ideas. Good luck!
K.

Dear H.,
I don't know if you are a Christian (or not), but I can tell you that prayer is the key! You can talk and do until you are blue in the face, but prayer can and will change things!
I know I am giving you a simple answer, but it really is so!
Blessings!
J. F.

I'm in the same situation. The only thing that stopped it for us, is that we are now out of money. Dh managed to overspend his bank account so much that I had to use credit cards to buy the basics- diapers and food, and we now are completely broke, with every one of our cards maxed. Thankfully, I had the foresight to close some credit cards earlier in the year, while they were still paid off, so i suppose it was "damage control" In my case, dh is the one who works, and I'm a SAHM. He has a very hard time not being allowed to spend the money he works for. But really, it's all to the best now. There's only a few months until tax returns, when I can pay it all off again, and dh will have to suffer with only spending what he has extra after I go shopping. Hopefulyl this will be enough to teach him about budgeting finally!

Good luck to you!

I'm lucky my husband is more 'frugal' than I am, however...I know how hard it is to not spend credit card money! I was in trouble with that before, but since then have learned my lesson...if the card is truly for emergencies, then no one should be carrying it around. Try freezing them in a bowl of water - that way in order to purchase anything with it - he will have to 'defrost' it.....I only use a debit card and all my credit cards are in a safe place and I never use them. If I don't have the money to spend, then I don't spend it...trying to get someone else to do that is much more difficult! Try communicating with him and see if he has any ideas on how to budget effectively, or control his spending...and get to the root cause of his spending (emotional, etc)...and maybe the financial counselor will help also....and computer programs like Quicken help manage finances as well....it will show what is being spent and where and for what. He may like the 'hobby' of dabbling with the computer and then he will learn also that a few dollars here and there at Taco Bell really add up! In the meantime, I would make it a rule for both of you (so you are in it with him, so he doesn't feel like it's a trust issue) that you guys leave the CC's at home, and you will delegate a certain amount of 'free money.' So he will have cash during the week and he can spend it on anything he wants, but once it's gone, it's gone. Also - draw up a percentage of how much money he makes and how much you make...let him know how much % he spends and on what - it could be an eye opener. And let him know if he keeps spending on conveniences, then you will have to cut the cable TV - or stop buying him his favorite food at home, gym memerbship, or some other 'convenience,' etc....also - my husband has a sweet tooth, so instead of letting him buy whatever lunch he wants, I pack it for him - so he has no excuse but to eat healthily...so maybe if you pack his lunch, etc, then he will have no choice but to eat it and not spend on the fast food. Or, find out what he really wants, like gum, food, etc...and factor it into your grocery budget as a treat for him, so he feels like he is still getting his comforts - and maybe he will feel less like spending. It's especially hard when money is low to stop from spending - it's a vicious cycle because people spend on emotions...so maybe just feeling loved, because you bought him his favorite 'fill in the blank,' will help. Good luck!!

Lots of great advice already about taking the card away and setting cash allowances. But how about stopping the need for doing take out by packing his lunches and snacks? My husband would eat out everyday and that adds up, so we pack our lunches now. Just have a family meeting and go over what the limits are. Any way that you can have his paycheck auto-deposit funds into a savings account so there's less readily available - even if it's just $10 a week you're building up emergency cash accounts gradually. Good luck! Keep praying. many of us are in tight situations and we must accept that financial crisis are part of life and sometimes temporary. God doesn't give us anything we can't handle. We just need to have faith,hope, and love. Maybe you and your husband have other issues that make him resentful to listening to your wishes. Show him more love and appreciation and he will love you more in return and finally see things your way. The whole finance part may just be a symptom of another problem.

call the credit card company and ask them to put him on a very small limit. one that you know if you have probelms you can manage them.

failing that make him freez the cards in water!!!! tell them he can have them when they thaw out in a freezer.

treat him like the child he wants to be, unfortunatly you will just have to put up with the probs

I know you said he doesn't like it, but if you could try to make him a part of the bill paying process, I think that would make his spending real to him. It's easy to use credit cards and not think about the money as actual dollars. If you could try to pay most bills all at once at the same time every month, it could become a habit. Try to make it appealing to him- maybe include something that he likes as part of the ritual. For instance, if he likes Chinese food, have one night a month when you order take out and then tackle the bills. And maybe try not to get angry at him when you see how much he spends- he will realize it himself if he actually takes part in paying the bills. Hope this helps...good luck.

I have had similiar problems with my husband as well. One thing that helped a little was not letting him have any cards, but set aside a specific amount of cash each week and that was all he was allowed to spend. It really helped a lot.

Dear H., I hope you get some great advice. It must be very difficult that you can't make your husband face facts! I highly recommend the book "Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. Wishing you all the best. N.

My wife read your message to me this morning. Your situation is extremely dangerous. He may have taken out credit cards that you don't even know about. This is a very common thing with spend-a-holics. Most of the time it is some sort of hole in their life that they are trying to fill by living beyond their means.

You need to have a very direct conversation with your husband --- unless of course he is abusive and likely to hit you. In that case just disappear without notice.

Assuming that is not the case. Do not give him total control of the finances. That will destroy your finances and your family. Forcing him to pay the bills with you is good because it helps him see the consequences of his decisions. If he was this way his whole life then he most likely never learned to manage his money. If this is a recent development he may very well be unhappy in the marriage and trying to destroy it without being up front about it. In either case he needs to confront what his issues really are and deal with them directly. Most of the time it is not the money that is the issue but a symptom of another problem. A financial counselor is not the only counselor both of you need to see. You probably need to see a marriage counselor to address the issues that I am sure it is causing to your marriage -- breach of trust, lack of working as a team.

The religious responses to your question ---that say everything will be fixed with prayer are just non-sense. God helps those who help themselves. He gives us free will for a reason. Praying is most likely not going to help in any direct way but it will most likely make you feel better. You need to take action yourself to solve the problem. If he won't join you in solving the problem then you may need to divorce. It is the only way to separate the financial responsibilities completely.

Even for credit cards only in his name the credit card company can go after you too unless you are divorced. Depending on how much out of control he is then it could cost you everything you have including your business.

You cannot get him to stop spending money, you can't control how he acts. You can control his access to money. Get away from credit/debit cards, and only have available the cash that is budged for that week. Set up a monthly budget, on a spread sheet, and pay what the budget says. Check it off when it is paid, so you know. Give him and you an allowance, and when it is gone it is gone. Budget for food, and put that money in an envelope. When it is gone, you both must use your allowance for food.

These are techniques that I use to keep myself from overspending.

I'm sorry you're having such a hard time with your husband spending money! That does make things rough, especially when he seems to be running from taking a part in dealing with the finances. My husband had a similar problem with me, only I was afraid to spend money along with being afraid of handling the finances. My problem was I got stressed out and afraid of not having enough money to survive and that affected my health and everyone's sanity, this was a product of growing up poor and having never been taught how to handle finances when things got tough. I would suggest sitting down and talking to him and figuring out exactly why it is he is having such a hard time with the finances and staying on a budget. Also, my way of learning about the finances and investing and learning ways to reach our financial goals and dreams was to have a financial planner work with us. We have a great one that came to our house and went through our finances with us and then took all of our information and created a booklet (or 'roadmap') showing us where our money is and is going and what to do in order to get where we want to go. The best part is she did it all for free! She gets paid through other companies if clients do end up setting up mutual funds or other various things, but this lady did not push us in any way. She was genuinely concerned about helping us and showing us how to reach financial freedom and just wanted us to find the best way(s) to do that. Also, her schedule is very open and she can fit you in very quickly. If you would like her info you can e-mail me for it at ____@____.com. I hope to hear from you!

~C.

It's sad and so frustrating when our husbands cannot submit themselves to the financial budget. I used to sit down with my husband and plan a monthly budget, which he'd blow and then, in frustration, I'd add to the problem. All I can tell you is possibly have a separate bill account with automatic deductions for your utilities and then have account that he can access and when it's empty, it's empty. No need to fight about it. Or, you both can agree on a cash amount he can just "blow" each month but he is not to touch the account even if he blows his amount in one purchase. Some people just need life to teach them.

It is obvious that you both have two different money styles, he is the fun one and you are the responsible one. If you could both add the fun (you) and the responsible (him) then you might be able to see eye to eye. Communicate, not yelling and demanding, talking about what is your concern and start with, and "I feel" statement not like a "You always" statement.

Write down a list or highlight your bank statement with all the stuff he has spent and give him a grand total, perhaps he doesn't see how all those little purchases add up.

Give him an allowance that you can both agree with.

At this point in life, saving and economizing is more important. If he continues, then start telling him that you are going to have to downgrade your services like, cable, internet, phone, gym memberships, etc. When he notices that the internet is so slow, he will notice, when your phone no longer has caller id or cannot make long distance calls affordably or cell phone minutes are down to a minimum, he will notice, when cable tv (or satellite dish) no longer has the premium channels and just the basic package, he will notice.

I think that there is a power struggle and he might feel disrespected in the way that you are in charge and he might feel diminished by that, who knows, maybe he is just so nonchalant about not knowing the consequences of his actions. You have to make it real for him so he can notice it for himself. This is the way people learn sometimes no matter what everyone says, until they learn a lesson that slaps them in the face, they won't and can't improve.

Perhaps along the line you can show him this request of yours and it could upset him, but it will show him how, deeply concerned you are with your situation.

Last but not least, respect and communication are so important in a marriage, this society forgets that and so many divorces happen.

This is a time in our country where everyone needs to live like our Grandparents did, they bought with cash, and only what they could afford, layaway purchase plans and what not, they respected their vows, and worked to being a team no matter how much their partner pissed them off, in other words they lived within their means, worked on common goals, and had commitment and respect towards each other.

Start thinking of ways to cut back until you get to see your financial counselor and good luck, you will both make it through :) Take Care.

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